Tag: Computers

Magna Carta Results


Better late than never, I guess.

I had created a Wordle of the results from the Magna Carta for the digital age 2015 Project but didn’t post it.

So, here it is…

Interesting, no?

magnacarta

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Pre #BIT14 Interview with Derrick Schellenberg and Brian Aspinall


Michelle Cordy (@cordym on Twitter) continued her series of interviews leading to the Bring IT, Together Conference in Niagara Falls on November 5-7, 2014.

Last night, she talked to Derrick Schellenberg (@Mr_Schellenberg) and Brian Aspinall (@mraspinall) about their sessions.  This time, the focus was on inquiry in the classroom.  Both Derrick and Brian have TLLP projects and they served as the basis for the interview.

It was a rainy, rainy night here last night and I was unable to get a good, reliable connection to watch the interview live last night.  There are parts of the interview where internet connections were definitely an issue.  I guess I don’t have a monopoly on that.  Anyway, you can enjoy the interview since it was recorded.

Look for shout outs to Royan Lee, David Fife, and James Cowper and their blogs.

Michelle’s previous interviews leading into the #BIT14 conference…

Microsoft Windows and me


On my drive home yesterday, I heard on the radio about this being the big weekend to preview Microsoft Windows 7.  One reviewer’s first impressions are available here.

While still focused on driving, my mind did start to wander about my history with Windows.  Like everyone these days, the household does have a computer or two hanging around.  Like everyone, we keep looking forward to the day when these things truly become appliances and just work.  But, that hasn’t happened yet and so I continue to look for the closest thing.

Due to the nature of my work, I need to know about these things so that I can understand and assist folks who are working at home.  So, it should come as no surprise that I have Windows, Mac OS, and Ubuntu installed and working at various places. But, today, it’s all about Windows.

I foresaw the end of civilization when Windows, version 1, was released.  After all, real computer users worked with the command line.  We knew about switches and pathnames and attrib and the lot.  We actually knew where stuff was stored and how it worked.  We knew the difference between batch files, .com files, and .exe files.  A year earlier, I had attended the MACUL conference and saw a demonstration of the Lisa computer.  Pfffft.  It’s just a scam to get people who didn’t know about computers to buy one. Well… So, over the years, I was proved wrong over and over.

Windows 3 – it was here that I became convinced that I was wrong and perhaps this mouse stuff would catch on.  Windows 3.1 allowed for some interesting graphical displays and working with computers did become interesting for the masses.  Lots of breakthroughs.  There was even the concept of networking with Windows for Workgroups!

Windows 95 – just a glorified version of Windows 3, they say.  Well, there’s got to be more to it than that.  After all, revisions going from 3 to 95 had to mean something.  It really did.  Windows 95 was actually an OS in itself and you didn’t have to buy MS-DOS to sit under it.

Windows 98 – my biggest and fondest memory of Windows 98 was that it became mobile with USB support.  I still remember paying $128 for a 32MB memory key.  It was cutting edge and the concept of carrying your data from one computer to the next was really exciting.

Windows ME – somewhere around this time, we bought a new home computer and it came with this OS.  Had to install it, of course.  You couldn’t foresake the latest and greatest.  For my money, this was much to do about nothing.  Maybe I just didn’t install it properly.

Windows NT – How could you make life more confusing and complicated?  Why not take all of these machines and network them?  Delving into this field with NT and Windows 2000 added to the learning curve.  Properly configured, you could do some amazing things in terms of performance and also managing decent sized networks.

Windows XP – This still is the standard for our workstations in our schools.  It’s a real workhorse and most developers have written or re-written their code so that it runs under Windows XP without hassles.  For the first time, when you buy software, you really don’t have to ask the obligatory, “Will it run under…?” But, Windows XP is now eight years old!

Computer use has become so much more sophisticated and the hardware and software needs to take advantage of these changes and so we have Windows Vista.  Is this eye candy or what?  I seem to be one of the few people that actualy like and use it regularly.  Of course, the “experts” won’t run it until at least service pack 3, if at all, and are very vocal about it.  Heck, they even recommend taking a perfectly tuned new computer and putting Windows XP on it. They may not get a chance with Windows 7 on the horizon.  It looks interesting and I’ll be waiting to hear the reviews about it this weekend during the official preview launch.

Will I be switching to Windows 7?  Quite probably to stay on top of the latest and most current. So, it’s been an interesting haul.  With all that I’ve messed with, there were even more versions of Windows that I missed.  See the complete timeline here.

Along this timeline, the concept of numbers sure has gone astray.  By my count, we’re beyond version 7 of this GUI interface, aren’t we? Oh, man….  just a quick review of the above reminds me that I forgot about Windows BOB and CE.

Thank goodness I am a lifelong learner!

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What to do now?


This year, more than ever, there was so much followup discussion following the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Symposium.

I must admit that I’m taken aback by the tone of some of the comments,  There are comments like “I doubt that things will change” and “Here are reasons why it won’t work” and “I’m concerned about equity” and “It’s all the Technical Department’s” fault and probably more than what I know about.

I think of this powerful quote.  A good friend of mine uses it as the default tagline on all of her messages.

“Our task is to provide an education for the kind of kids we have… Not the kind of kids we used to have… Or want to have… Or the kids that exist in our dreams.”  Mary Kay Utecht

It’s not a big leap to translate “kids” to “technology” and “connectivity” and “access”.

As educators, we face challenges every single day.  Many of these challenges are imposed from the outside and there’s not always things that we can do about it.  But, we need to embrace and take charge of those things that we can’t challenge.  I truly hope that the discussion was meant to be sensational and spark some conversation.  I hope that folks aren’t going to roll over and say “We can’t do it because things aren’t right…”

Things will never be right.  Things will never be perfect for all people.

There are challenges all over the place.  Yes, I get frustrated that I can’t just hop onto Google Images when I need an image for a presentation or a document.  But, you know what…there are plenty of other sources for images that are available to me.

I hope desperately that the comments are borne in the desire to do the very best that we can and that there is optimistic hope that we’re moving in the right direction.  Things in education can be slow to move but they are moving.  I found out recently that the Ontario Mathematics teachers will soon have professional development surrounding Web 2.0 technologies in the Intermediate Years’ mathematics classrooms.  This isn’t something that would be easy to predict a few years ago but we have contemporary educators like Ross Isenegger of Mathfest who know what’s right and are behind this initiative.

There are givens.  There will never be enough computers, enough bandwidth, enough access, enough refreshing of hardware and technology, …

But, we are professionals and will do the best that we can.  We can always do more with more and we need to constantly communicate this to those who allocate monies to education.  We need to always be moving along.  To paraphrase Mr. Warlick, we cheat the kids when we don’t.

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A Great Picture


This image was posted on Twitter tonight as Tim Lauer’s new favourite picture.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lydiamaria/3075298475/

I checked it out immediately.  What a great picture.  If you’re into pricing, that’s a pair of expensive computers those youngsters are holding.  It’s interesting to see them so engaged with their technology.

I just hope, in the best sense of the word, that they’re not IM-ing each other!

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December 2008 GEC Computers in the Classroom Newsletter


This past week, my wife and I watched the Gemini Awards on television. The Geminis recognize the very best in Canadian broadcast television. My son works in production for the Survivorman series and they were nominated for three awards.

The show was well produced with a great deal of interesting personalities on and off the stage, the red carpet, and all the goodies that you would normally expect to see in a show like this.

For me, an appearance by The Amazing Kreskin stole the show.

I recall being fascinated by Kreskin in my youth and we were faithful viewers of the show. His basic premise was always the same – he is a mentalist and has you sitting on the edge of your chair as he does his thing.

He could always read minds, or make predictions, or somehow do that little extra something that put him above the audience and left us all in awe. He was the ultimate showman and performed his parts with such flair.

Years later, he still has the flair and enthusiasm that I so fondly remember.

On the show, he predicted a couple of the winners by tuning into host Jason Priestley’s thoughts! To ensure the integrity of these predictions, he was locked into a sound proofed glass booth with a couple of accountants to keep tabs on him.

Of course, the great mentalist was correct. Who would have doubted it? However, it was his style and his flair that came through during the broadcast that kept us interested and intrigued in his predictions.

So, what’s the deal with the props? After all, couldn’t he just have written the predictions on a piece of paper and it just be turned over at the end of the bit? Sure he could. I would also have changed the channel.

We face the same thing with students in classrooms every day. Think about the good old days of education where we would hang on the noise of every stroke of a piece of chalk.

Hah!

It didn’t work then and it sure doesn’t work now.

Much has been said and written about 21st Learning Skills and what students are bringing to the table these days. Does this mean that we bring technology into the classroom to entertain? I sure hope not.

What technology does bring is the opportunity to dig deeper and create better and deeper understandings of the subject matter. Compare a pencil and paper mathematics activity to one with a Fathom or Geometer’s Sketchpad or spreadsheet alternative. Beyond the simplistic “get the answer”, we now afford opportunities to find more, think deeper, and ask the question “what would happen if I just did this”.

We could colour a map or we could explore a related layer in Google Earth. We could create another bristleboard display or we could add three dimensions to it by using Hyperstudio and some internet research to add much more to the activities than a simple display.

Using technology isn’t just a simple transference from one media to another. A favourite quote of mine is attributed to Henry Ford who once said, “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.”

Therein lies the genius of Kreskin. He constantly would be looking for innovative ways to keep us engaged in his show. Technology, used properly, can do the same for us in the classroom.

As for Andy, unfortunately, they weren’t winners this year. But the recognition and participation lives on to next year. We’re still proud parents nonetheless.

You can access all of the December GEC Computers in the Classroom Newsletter at:  http://www.gecdsb.on.ca/d&g/Dec08/

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Bouncing Around


Those of us old enough to remember “real computers” think back fondly on the IBM 1130 or 370 or 360 or a Honeywell 6660.  These were the things that carved out my career with computers.  The languages were the classics.  Fortran made us think mathematically.  And, I’ve jokingly mentioned many times that it was COBOL that taught me how to type.

At university, I recall going to bed at 6pm so that I could be up and over to the mathematics building by 1am to take advantage of the faster processing times and the shorter lineups.  Lineups?  For what? 

There were the good ol’ days when computer programs were keypunched onto cards or optically marked with pencil.  We were actually far removed from the computer that did the processing.  The lineups were actually whole classes handing in decks of cards to be run through a card reader – then communicated to the computer for processing – to finally generate a printed output.

For me, this was classic computer.  Because the whole process was time consuming between algorithm design and successful execution of the program, the more care that you put into things, the shorter it took to get the job done.

Flash forward to this afternoon.  I’m waiting for my wife and have my Blackberry in hand in the car getting caught up on email until she arrives. 

I wouldn’t want to use either methods of computer as my primary source.  I was thinking about how technology has bounced around over the years.  I recall my first TRS-80 computer, my first 8086 based machine, my Aptiva, my Palm, my P4 clone, my first work laptop, my current work widescreen laptop, and now into the mix we’re starting to see a smaller network based computer.  I haven’t delved into that area yet because of lack of need and a nagging spidey sense that the market hasn’t quite determined where it’s headed with this technology.

It would be an interesting exercise to chart the size and performance of these things.  Normally, we think that things get better in all specification with time, but it hasn’t.  There are compromises in terms of screen resolution and size, hard drive storage, processor speed, keyboard size and functionaliy as we bounce around on a harmonic series of specifications. 

I do get a sense that we’re narrowing in on the perfect computer but we’re not there yet.  However, we’re closing in.

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